Anne Schoellkopf Coke

Anne Schoellkopf Coke was born in 1933 in Dallas, Texas and has lived there for most of her life. Married to an Epsicopal priest for nearly sixty years, they have four children and ten grandchildren. Anne has painted and drawn all her life, from crayolas to oils, and in her old age has begun to draw and paint with words.

From a letter to my granddaughter, who is a writer

On My "Poetry"

I can't, won't, call it "poetry". What I can call it is "word sketches", but whatever it might be called, doggerel, junk, egoistic drivel, it must out.

How is it that at the end of my life I want to write, to ponder the ordinary, to unburden all heaviness, to tease out perplexity, lay myself out and bare, open to failure?

I cannot presume that putting a capital letter at the beginning of a line makes poetry, or that a run on sentence, enjambment, can be transmogrified into art. With me there is no rhyme, no particular rhythm or meter, no punctuation, or minimal, just strokes, brief sightings, glimpses, deep feelings, swift impressions, trying to make sense.

What I want to do is to write lines, short as brushstrokes, brief, which tell a picture or pull up a memory in sounds and words, a snapshot in sound and word and under the sound and word, the truth as I see it.

In Nicholson Baker's book about a failed poet, "The Anthologist" on page 34, the poet says, "If you feel that you have a use, if you think your writing furthers life or truth in some way, and then you keep writing. But if that feeling stops, you have to find something else to do. Or die, I guess. Or mow the lawn or go somewhere and do something that you think is worth knowing." I like that. It speaks to me. I wrote the following describing my feelings about some current poetry and describing my own "output".

Ordinary Oddness

Madame Sesostris and her tarot cards
Don't mean much to me
Presumably the cognoscenti get it
But not the ignorant hoi polloi
Who have little Latin and less Greek
Like me

I want to speak of simple things
I want to speak to those who cannot fathom
The strange poems of The New Yorker
Which week by week intimidate
And put to shame the weakly schooled
Like me

The simple stuff is, after all, not so simple
And the ordinary, also, is not simply ordinary
But requires in-looking and mulling over
Beyond the obvious expected categorizations
There is mystery in the least of things and in people
Like me

The arcane has but small appeal for me
Only the known tipped at an angle
Or put upside down the better to see
The beautiful fresh oddness of the ordinary
The sweet simple world that is available
To me

mages from
Anne Coke